Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth yesterday tasked the Minister for Public Service and Labour, Fanfan Rwanyindo, to explain what her ministry was doing to reduce the number of unemployed fresh graduates.
Rwanyindo and her team of seven senior managers were taken to task by the MPs to explain why some fresh graduates are required to sit for examinations set by professional bodies before they are accredited to start working.
She explained that the councils were established with a clear agenda designed to improve standards and inform the skills and labour market needs.
“The skills councils were established to set performance standards, to provide information on sector capacity and labour market needs. The councils also register and accredit professionals,” she said.
The Head of Strategic Human Resources and Capacity Development Department at Capacity Development and Employment Services Board (CESB), Bonavanture Uwamahoro, explained that the process was in line with global trends established to provide the market with top notch professionals.
“When you look at global trends, professional councils are necessary. They support us to regulate and provide competitive professionals and I think that their importance cannot be ignored,” he said.
Questions arise on internships
According to an internship evaluation report released in February this year, 58.3 per cent of students who went on internship programmes are employed, of which 63.2 percent are male.
MP Edda Mukabagwiza pointed out that the number of those unemployed was still high and wondered what the issue was and what was being done to address it.
The Director General of CESB, Antonia Mutoro, explained that there were few government jobs compared to the number of graduates.
She also said that only a limited number of big corporations in the private sector could readily absorb them.
Rwanda’s unemployment rate stands at 16.7 per cent as of February this year, according to latest statistics from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda. Youth unemployment stands at 21 per cent.
Mutoro, however, said that the government had put in place important measures which would go a long way in fixing the problem.
“All government projects must have an internship component, whether it is to do with water, energy, construction of the airport etc. We have also been talking to the private sector and attitudes are changing and they are beginning to see the value of letting students pursue their internship programmes in their companies,” she said.
She also hailed the change in attitudes of students who she said have started embracing farming related activities.
MP Petronille Mukandekezi asked the minister and her delegation to look into courses that continue to be taught in various universities but were not fully recognised by the skills councils.
“We still have issues of students who cannot find jobs particularly because of what they studied. For instance, students who did microbiology are stranded because they do not fall anywhere since medical bodies couldn’t even accredit them. They required them to study another 20 per cent before they were certified. How is it that a course can be studied year after year in a University in our country but cannot be recognised? Maybe it’s about time some of these faculties were completely scrapped,” she said.
On those studying abroad
Mutoro explained that the Ministry of Education had created a registration and skills database, where students studying abroad and what they are studying can be obtained.
“We are working with the Diaspora Network in Arusha to track down and register even those who were abroad before the database was established,” she said.